After almost a week in the San Bernardino Mountains, we left Monday morning at 6:30 am to try not to get into the morning rush hour towards San Diego. We had to pick up one more little part for Heinz’ bike at the BMW dealer there. All went well, they were very friendly and from there we were off to the Mexican border in Tecate. We stopped at a small variety store just before the border in hot, hot weather, added up all our US loose change and got rid of it all by buying an ice cream ( no, not beer!!)
Surprisingly enough when we came to the border, there was no line up, just some trucks idling but no cars. Several customs officers were standing around and waiting for something to do. When we appeared, they all waived us right in. First we had to open our panniers and they wanted to know, what was all in it. Most of them spoke English. We had to go fill out a tourist immigration form, then had to pay tourist tax, and get a temporary vehicle import permit. We needed copies of this and that and all was done in about 1 hour and a half to 2 hours, I’d say.
Next task was to find an ATM machine and get some Pesos, so we rode into Tecate and I waited with the bikes, while Heinz went into a bank. It took several minutes for him to figure out which way the card had to go in and he was reason for a lot of amusement by the Senoritas standing behind him, he said.
Meanwhile I got to observe the ongoing traffic in downtown Tecate. Traffic signs and lights… mhm only a recommendation, not really to go by! For us meaning either do the same and risk getting caught by police ( ‘cause they love giving tourists tickets!) or obey the signs and get the honking horns and impatience from the Mexicans. We decided to take the first option! For everybody who has driven in Mexico, there are a lot of stop signs (sometimes really for no reason!) and speed bumps (topes) to watch out for.
Traffic was reasonable and everybody was behaving! We rode through vine country meaning some small vineyards here and there in the valleys and at the foot of the mountains that were green/irrigated and the rest around was bone dry dessert almost. Road was in good shape, twisty and up and down the mountains. We stopped just before Ensenada at a simple Hotel along the road and got a room for the night that was simple but reasonably priced and clean ( yeah some little ants running around the floor, but oh well could be worse!) it was late afternoon, we were exhausted from all the heat, only had some warm water left and.. of course were dying for a cold drink ( beer ???)
Heinz went out for a hunt and proudly came back with a huge 1.2 liter bottle of beer that we emptied in no time. We high-fived that we managed the first day in Spanish, went to a nearby restaurant (that was Italian, ha ha!) and had an excellent stone oven Pizza.
Next day we decided to take a side trip off the Route 1 and went to “ La Bufadora” or the “ blowhole”. It is at the Pacific coast, an underwater canyon that sucks in water and then it gets “ blown” out about 30-40 m up in the air. It is a big tourist attraction and for that reason we both regretted that we went there initially, because there was a long road to pass with all kinds of nick knacks for sale and they all came up to you to pester you and to buy stuff. A bit annoying! Well, we saw the blowhole (not so exciting!) went back, found a small bar and thought we could have a bite to eat there. They were only serving drinks at that time so… we had no other choice than having a beer. Man, it tastes soo good when its hot!! The barkeeper was originally from San Diego therefore spoke English and we talked for a while. He proudly showed us his snake that was sitting in a big jar preserved in Tequila (yuck!!) Quite a character that guy!!
So, back to the Highway 1 we rode, which was actually quite nice and scenic. We had another couple of hours to go to make it to San Quintin. We were told about a Hotel at the coast (the old Mill Hotel) that is apparently known amongst motorcyclists and also famous for an excellent restaurant. It was off the main highway with 2 miles of horrendous gravel road (but I managed!). It is apparently owned by a Couple from Seattle and has a lot of US American customers- not so authentic !! It is cozy though and fairly secluded and quiet.
We have booked the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan for next Tuesday so we have 5 more days to explore Baja. Next stop will probably be St. Ignacio an old mission town with a beautiful church and…more ( beer?? Ops, no… or maybe!)